Philip Galanes Shares Advice for Giving and Getting Advice

Friday, June 13, 2014

Advice is usually well-intentioned but sometimes it’s unwelcome or even unhelpful. Philip Galanes, New York Times Social Q’s columnist, talks about when and how to share your pearls of wisdom and how to handle receiving advice you don’t want or need. Galanes is the author of author of Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today. Share your question or story below!


Philip Galanes

Comments [24]

Susan from Westchester

I am a therapist and I have a saying: "therapy is for people who can't take good advice". This issue came up several times during the show. Frustrating when you are the one giving the (hopefully good) advice. Even more frustrating when you are the one who cannot take it.

Jun. 13 2014 04:40 PM
Tim from Westchester

RE: The overweight son. I think the son will quickly see through his father's sudden tennis and CrossFit invitations and resent the deception.

Jun. 13 2014 12:45 PM
Amy from Manhattan

K, could you tell your mother-in-law that what she advises is not your style or that you don't think it would work in your situation, or something like that?

Jun. 13 2014 12:41 PM

people in North America misunderstand cues all the time. they/we are just too literal,and don't tend to see the meta reality around a given subject. therefore,we isolate and fixate to distortion. we've a veneer of "low grade Social Aspergers Syndrome".

Jun. 13 2014 12:37 PM
Patricia from CT

One really good response to unwanted advice or the "I hate your haircut" type comment is simply to say "Good to know". End of conversation, no hurt feelings.

Jun. 13 2014 12:36 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

gee, i never thought of that, chatty cathy!

Jun. 13 2014 12:34 PM
Barbara Hoffmann from PA

I got the best advise from a boss many years ago. He said my style of speech at meetings sounded like I thought of was superior, and because he knew I didn't feel that way at all. It was great and I felt great that he told me.

Jun. 13 2014 12:33 PM
Barbara Hoffmann from PA

I got the best advise from a boss many years ago. He said my style of speech at meetings sounded like I thought of was superior, and because he knew I didn't feel that way at all. It was great and I felt great that he told me.

Jun. 13 2014 12:32 PM
Amy from Manhattan

*Never* just go up to someone (unless you're very close w/them, & maybe not even then) & adjust their clothing for them. The comparison isn't to telling a man his fly is open, it's closer to zipping it up for him. *Tell* the person the tag is sticking out so they can fix it themself, or at the least, get their attention & point at the tag, & if they don't object, then you can tuck it in. You never know what's happened to another person. They may have been abused or grabbed in the past, or they may just startle easily.

And for people who say they don't like your hair, how about answering, "You're entitled to your opinion"?

Jun. 13 2014 12:32 PM
john from office

Urgh this is the neurotic jewish segment!

No offense to a great people, it is a New York upper class thing.

Jun. 13 2014 12:30 PM
Carol from park Slope

I have a relative who gives gifts in our name, say when my husband died to her temple, which has absolutely nothing to do with me and especially my husband, since he wasn't of her religious persuasion. I haven't said anything but it absolutely infuriates me. I would love to say something, but I can think of how to do this tactfully. Can you hel?

Jun. 13 2014 12:30 PM

Despite having a well-kept beard, there are still many who refuse to believe that I'm not a dirty, lazy slob or some sort of terrorist.

I blame this stereotyping on corporations who sought to increase their razor sales by glamorizing clean-shaven faces as belonging to heroes while the bearded men were barbarians or villains.

Thus, I generally disregard advice from people suggesting I shave off my beard and live clean-shaven simply because of some sort of stereotype.

I personally don't give advice unless the person asks for it(most cases are like this for me) or looks like they could do with it(not something often for me).

Jun. 13 2014 12:27 PM
Diana from Long Island, NY

What is the best way to leave a Summer internship without burning any bridges?
My son has been working for a Manhattan theater company the last 3 weeks & feels as though he is not a good fit. He also has other opportunities available that he would get paid for.
He thought he might give them two weeks notice as well as offering to train another intern to take over his job.
What would you suggest?
PS I love your column Mr. Galanes! Youu always know what's best!

Jun. 13 2014 12:26 PM
Lee from Queens

So here we sit listening to a guy who wont ask for or take advice from others..I guess we're getting the benefit of his 400 year old therapist. Always by the way laced with condescension and snark...gee thanks Phil.

Jun. 13 2014 12:26 PM
AR from New York

I learned early not to give unsolicited advice when I tried to help a very young relative not leap into marriage. My relative got angry, ignored my comments, and ultimately the marriage broke up badly and painfully. Years later, a couple I was close to separated because after more than a dozen years together, the husband came out as gay. I figured that it was safe to speak up tactfully and diplomatically, when asked. Two years after the initial separation, they got back together and now have a child. Needless to say, my friendships with both parties suffered, and I'm not friends with either of them. I no longer give advice unless I'm prepared for the relationship to blow up.

Jun. 13 2014 12:23 PM


Jun. 13 2014 12:23 PM
betsy from nyc

I have 2 people who tell me they don't like my hair (I get many compliments from friends & strangers). someone one told me to say, "that really hurts my feelings." it works!

Jun. 13 2014 12:20 PM
Tish from NYC

I think that most of the time when people ask for advice, what they really want is a reassurance that the decision they've already made is correct.

If that is the case, what should we do or say when someone is clearly invested in their decision/behavior but we think they're making a mistake?

Jun. 13 2014 12:19 PM
K from New York

What if your mother-in-law often wants to give you career advice? We don't share world views, and her way of approaching things goes against every fiber of my body.

Jun. 13 2014 12:18 PM
SherNYC from Lower Manhattan

BEST, BEST recent new learning for me in this vein was an exercise in which I learned the Utter Futility and UNhelpfulness of advice that starts with "WHY DON'T YOU JUST...?" It far underestimates the power of ingrained habits and assumptions in the other person.

Jun. 13 2014 12:18 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

I'd like some advice on how to make a career out of such b.s. like this. Must be nice.

Jun. 13 2014 12:18 PM
Shelley from NYC

When IS it okay to offer unrequested advice to another adult?

(The only time I think I'd ever do it is when the person seemed to be in immediate danger...but are there other instances?)

Jun. 13 2014 12:17 PM
Angela from Brooklyn

What's the best way to handle people who claim to want advice, but really only seem to want to drag you into their drama - over and over and over?

Jun. 13 2014 12:12 PM

Nap time!!

Jun. 13 2014 12:08 PM

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